Daily Israel Report

Queen Amends UKs Universal Jurisdiction Law

Elizabeth II amended the UKs universal jurisdiction law to allow arrest warrants for non Brits - often targeting Israelis - to be vetoed.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 9/15/2011, 6:11 PM

Queen Elizabeth II signed Thursday an amendment to the United Kingdom's universal jurisdiction laws allowing harrassement of non-nationals through the threat of arrest warrants to be served when they reached British soil.

"The change will ensure people cannot file for warrants when there is no real chance of prosecution," British Ambassador Matthew Gold said," and prevent abuse of the British legal system for political ends."

According to Gold, the chief prosecutor in the UK would have to approve requests for warrants under the universal jurisdiction statutes, thereby avoiding the issuance of politically motivated warrants in response to petitions that related to cases not expected to reach trial.

"The UK is committed to bring to trial those guilty of war crimes," the ambassador noted. "This change will ensure that it will continue to meet international commitments."

The UK law authorizing the issuance of arrest warrants for foreign nationals who committed war crimes outside British jurisdiction had remained unchanged since World War II.

Last year Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with counterpart Willian Hague to discuss the rampant abuse of the universal jurisdiction statute by anti-Zionist groups who submitted petitions to the British courts as a means of harassing Israeli officials and military commanders.

The change was also advocated by British officials, including Attorney General Baroness Patricia Scotland, who had asked for the law to be amended giving her office the right to veto such warrants.

Anti-Israel activists have engaged in an extensive and cynical lawfare campaign against Israel and made extensive use of universal jurisdiction statutes, especially in Britain, to target Israeli officials and military commanders for harassment.

Gold personally called opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who avoided visiting the UK as she had an arrest warrant issued against her in December 2009 due to her position as Foreign Minister during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, and told her the news.

"Ms. Livni, London waiting for you", Gold said.

"This will stop the cynical abuse of the British law," Livni said, welcoming the decision. "True justice is done."

In May, Gen. Yohanan Locker, military attaché to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was unable to accompany Netanyahu to London due to a  British warrant for war crimes issued for him under the universal jurisdiction statute.

Other senior officers, such as former OC Southern Command, Doron Almog , who was to speak at a dinner benefiting institution for handicapped youth, and the head of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aviv Stars , have also been prevented from entering Britain due to such warrants. Almog,  who did not know about the warrant in advance, was warned not to get off the plane when he landed in Britain.